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Wisdom Wednesdays: Using CommonTime to Target Different Student Abilities
Sep 21, 2022 | Michael Skillern

Greetings, arts educators!

This week on Wisdom Wednesday, Michael from the CommonTime Education + Outreach team discussed how to connect the different types of student reasoning to the arts.

When coming up with the topic for this week’s Wisdom Wednesday, I was inspired by the CAT4 assessment given to the students at my school. This assessment uses exercises in spatial reasoning, verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning to determine how teachers can differentiate instruction. These four areas are similar to the areas assessed in a standard IQ test. I don’t personally like using assessments in this way, but the four abilities described and their relation to education are interesting to say the least.

Watch the full webinar below:

Here is a quick breakdown of the four types of reasoning:


Verbal Reasoning

Verbal reasoning refers to mental work using spoken and/or written language. Assessment involves having students find connections between different written words.

For example: Choose one of the following words that connects to the given words. 

Given words: tree, corn, flower, bush.

Multiple choice options: 

  1. seaweed 
  2. bird
  3. rock 
  4. horse 

The answer is A because it is a plant just like the given words.


Quantitative Reasoning

Quantitative reasoning refers to mental working using numbers and pattern recognition. Assessment involves having students complete numerical analogies and find patterns in different sets of numbers.

For example:  2, 4, 6;      3, 5, 8;      10,11, ?.

The pattern is adding the first two numbers together to get the third number. So the answer to this problem would be 21.


Non-verbal Reasoning

Non-verbal reasoning refers to mental work using shapes and figures. Assessment involves having students find connections between different shapes and figures.

For example, a test shows an irregular 5-sided figure. From a group of different figures, choose the one that is connected in some way to the first figure shown.

Students should choose the figure from the group that also has 5 sides. The figures are connected through their number of sides.


Spatial Reasoning

Spatial reasoning refers to mental work using visualization. Assessment involves showing students a square. Then there are several images that represent how the square is being folded. In the last photo, the test shows a circular hole or other image being punched into the paper. The students need to select the photo showing what the embellished square would look like when unfolded. Students might imagine the task like making a paper snowflake, and visualize what the final snowflake looks like without unfolding it first.


Now, let’s connect these different types of reasoning to the arts.

Verbal reasoning can be easily influenced through theater study. The frequent use of vocabulary. Theater study also requires students to find connections between words in order to act them out correctly. There is also the written element of the script. On CommonTime we have two Artists (Joleen and Hon) who specialize in using improv theater to convey most theater learning concepts.

Quantitative reasoning is essentially the study of pattern recognition. Music is full of patterns to help flex a student’s quantitative muscles. Some of our traditional Music experts, like Farzin (Middle Eastern Music) and Pranoy (Indian classical music), are primed to come in, teach traditional world music rhythms, and help students advance their quantitative reasoning skills.

Dance also works to build pattern recognition. CommonTime Artist Manon is available now to come into your classes to teach ballet and choreography. Physical movement-based patterns work just as well to build the root skill of quantitative reasoning as numbers do.

Non-Verbal reasoning can be honed through work with CommonTime Artists Malathi or Kanchana. These artists can help introduce your students to new techniques that allow them to communicate with shapes and figures in different ways. Cubism, collages, dotism, architecture, and other techniques and styles represent the variety of mediums through which students can draw connections between lines, shapes, and colors.

Spatial reasoning can be influenced by work with CommonTime Artist Ash Pearl. Her innovative color mixing sessions can help students visualize colors in their minds and bring them to life.


For more information on these artists, visit their individual artist profiles linked above, or browse all of the artists on CommonTime by clicking here